So today Jackie Robinson West played a team better than they were, just that simple. Today they got to be on the losing end of a "mercy rule" game losing 13-2 in four innings.
But they live to see another day, its a double elimination tournament, so it takes two losses to be sent home, so Jackie Robinson West has one more game. That game is tomorrow at 7 P.M. vs The New England team from Cumberland, Rhode Island. And that team is no slouch either, after losing their first game they rallied and put up eight runs to win their last game,
The game this afternoon was just one of those with tough plays, especially defensively that would be challenging on any level and the Las Vegas team has a hard throwing pitcher and really spot on defense. They played very similar to how Jackie Robinson West plays, aggressive base running and taking hard swings at the plate. But could also play good "small ball", getting base hit, moving the runner and being as fundamental yet not passive.
Jackie Robinson West was not passive and did not lose their fundamentals but as ESPN's Karl Ravech commented, they ran into a "buzzsaw", a great team on a hot streak.
Something noticeable about this game was that the strike zone was smaller and it was for both teams and called fairly & consistently but its what happens as you advance in a tournament, the teams get better, the strike zone gets compact and the room for error also shrinks.
I've seen my share of baseball and some of the best baseball I saw (and learned from), came while sitting on the Brother Rice High School bench while being an equipment manager my freshman year. I kept score, warmed up pitchers and took care of the aforementioned equipment. I also listened to the coaches and talked with players. I learned the game on a different level and saw a high level of south side baseball. I remember a double header one Saturday afternoon in Jackson Park vs Mount Carmel that was just like Jackie Robinson's game vs Las Vegas. Simply a much better team beats you, so in the words of hip hop artist Jay-Z, you "brush that off your shoulder" and move on.
One thing about the Jackie Robinson West team to know is they are only the second team that is part of Little League's Urban Initiative (Harlem's 2002 team was the first), and this is a great program that has been around since 1999 with lots of corporate and municipal support (including the Chicago Park District), to rehabbing inner city parks and working with urban Little League teams.
Now its important to know that Jackie Robinson West has been around since 1971 founded by the late Joseph Haley and started as a single team that now is its own league that now plays on 9 fields from Morgan Park to West Pullman and into Roseland.
But its home field is Jackie Robinson Park at 197th & Morgan and there today the city hosted its second viewing party for the Jackie Robinson West team. Its estimated that 600 people came out for the Thursday afternoon viewing party vs their opening game win vs Lynwood Washington.
So tomorrow night is it, if Jackie Robinson West wins they play right again Tuesday night and if they lose......well lets just root for them to win, Go JRW!
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